A breakthrough combination of an anti-diabetic drug and antihypertensive drug could help in the treatment of cancer, reports a recent study.

Treating Cancer With Diabetes And Hypertension Drugs

According to the researchers from University of Basel, a widely used type 2 diabetes medication metformin in combination with syrosingopine, the antihypertensive drug, would help fight cancer more efficiently.

The investigators noted that metformin is capable of fighting cancer cells in addition to reducing blood sugar levels in the body. However, the doses prescribed for controlling blood sugar levels are too small to combat cancer.

Metformin And Syrosingopine To Treat Cancer

On the contrary, if higher doses of metformin were used, in spite of killing cancer cells, the drug also produced adverse side effects. In order to resolve this issue, the investigators analyzed thousands of pills and came up with the antihypertensive medication, syrosingopine. Surprisingly, the combination of the two pills stressed the cancer cells enough to commit suicide.

Don Benjamin, the first author of the study, said that when the drug cocktail was tested on leukemia patients, the medication killed almost all the cancer cells without causing any adverse side effects to the healthy cells.

It was also observed that the medication was toxic only to the cancerous cells, as the healthy blood cells from unaffected donor were found to be "insensitive" to the drug cocktail.

When the drugs were tested on malignant liver cancer in mice, the liver enlargement was found to have reduced after the treatment. The number of tumor nodules was also observed to have reduced in some mice. Notably, in some mice, the tumors were found to have vanished completely.

Role Of Drug Cocktail In Cancer Treatment

On analysis of molecular events involved in the process, it was noted that metformin blocked the respiratory chain in mitochondria, the power house of the cell, while the syrosingopine prevented the degradation of sugars.

The drug cocktail had adverse impact on the key functions of mitochondria, which provide energy to the cells. Given that, the tumor cells that require abundant energy for growth and metabolic activities are greatly affected by the lack of supply of energy.

With huge efforts, the researchers found that blocking the respiratory chain of mitochondria is the key to kill cancer cells.

Meanwhile, Benjamin noted that the combination of two drugs was effective in containing the tumor cell proliferation opposed to using the drugs alone.

"The data from this study support the development of combination approaches for the treatment of cancer patients," said Benjamin in a press release.

The study is published in the journal Science Advances.

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